Friday, July 13, 2007

Upon Completion of Pony Camp

Today the girls finished their very first week of Camp Cheval, or pony camp. I was calling it horse camp, but the girls both corrected me very quickly after their first day, because they rode ponies, not horses.

They had such a good time! They went Monday through Friday from 9am-12:30pm each day, and learned lots of great stuff about horses - colors, markings, breeds - along with basic riding skills and horse care. I'm impressed with the program and am so glad they had their first horse experiences there. Both girls talked nonstop about everything they learned, argued about who would get to tell me stuff, and corrected each other constantly all week long.

Emma rode an Arabian pony named Pharaoh all week - he was the tallest pony, and she was definitely the tallest girl! He is called a "flea-bitten grey" because his markings are little dots that apparently look like flea bites. She loves this pony, and cried today when she had to say goodbye.

Abbie rode a pony named Ollie on the first day, and on the second day switched to a pinto pony named Toby, who she rode for the rest of the week. Toby is so old that he would prefer to sleep all the time, with occasional breaks for eating. He needs a whip to keep him going, so Courtney, one of the counselors, led him while Abbie was riding.

Today, we got to go watch the girls demonstrate their new riding skills for us. They decided to show us trail riding, so we followed them on a little walk around the farm and went to see a brand-new foal who was just born on June 21 - the first day of summer, so her name is, quite appropriately, Summer. My friend Michelle, and also my friend Jenni and her three girls, came to watch the girls ride. Summer came over to the fence to see Michelle, and all of Jenni's crew were able to get up close and touch her, and seemed enchanted with the sweet little horse. The littlest one, who is almost two, was quite impressed by all the "horsen" and seemed to think Summer was just her size. I think we may have at least one new recruit for horse camp next year from Jenni's girls (not the toddler - only the oldest will actually be old enough)!

When we got home, we had to deal with lots of horse (excuse me, PONY) camp withdrawal. Emma was told that "her Pharaoh" is the next pony on the list to retire, and he will go back to his owner. He used to be a little girl's show pony, and apparently he's going back to her within the next year or two. Emma was just heartbroken to think that she might not be able to see him again. In order to help her, and Abbie, feel better, I printed off some of the pictures I took and put them on a ribbon board, along with their camp certificates of completion, which we will hang on their wall.

The girlies, of course, can't wait to get back on a horse. Macnair's, the barn where they went to pony camp, will be issuing invitations to take riding lessons to all the kids from camp. We're talking about signing them up, but with "Schmooey" coming along, we will probably have them wait until spring. The good news is that they do have a "Saddle Up" program, which would allow the girls to go ride sometimes without committing to a lesson schedule. We might be able to swing that a time or two in the interim while they wait to start "real" lessons.

I believe pony camp was a huge success. We definitely wanted to see how the girls would like being around real live horses before signing them up for lessons, and it looks like this is something they'd like to pursue.

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